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ADL Stands for Anti-Doingsomethingaboutdefamation League

The Anti-Defamation League, whose principles about speaking out against defamation are embedded into its very name, just released a statement on the proposed Islamic Community Center scheduled to be built within a few blocks of Ground Zero. As you can see, it’s completely contradictory, not only to the stated goals of the ADL, but internally contradictory.

We regard freedom of religion as a cornerstone of the American democracy, and that freedom must include the right of all Americans – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths – to build community centers and houses of worship.

We categorically reject appeals to bigotry on the basis of religion, and condemn those whose opposition to this proposed Islamic Center is a manifestation of such bigotry.

The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at this location is counterproductive to the healing process. Therefore, under these unique circumstances, we believe the City of New York would be better served if an alternative location could be found.

So, yes, the ADL condemns religious bigotry, believes in the rights of all religious faiths to build houses of worship – but yes, this one time, our funders tell us that we should reject the Islamic Center, so, fine. As Adam Serwer says, “I learned a very important lesson in Hebrew School that I have retained my entire life. If they can deny freedom to a single individual because of who they are, they can do it to anyone. Someone at the ADL needs to go back to Hebrew School.”

Note the use of the words “Islamic Center.” This is not a mosque; in fact there’s already one of those standing in the neighborhood. Some far-right, anti-Muslim neocons want to highlight this building as part of their agenda to sow fear and hatred for Muslims, which will be good for them to use in future pushes for wars.

Instead of harping on what gets built near Ground Zero, maybe the people out in front of this bigotry could get some answers about when we’re going to see anything built ON Ground Zero? There’s no greater message given to the world about American weakness than the fact that the hole in the ground created on 9/11 is still sitting there empty. You’d think that people so interested in projecting American dominance and power around the world would be more concerned about that.

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David Dayen

David Dayen